101 Cooking For Two - Everyday Recipes for Two: How to Grill an Excellent Hamburger - A Tutorial

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Grill an Excellent Hamburger - A Tutorial

How to Grill an Excellent Hamburger - A Tutorial from 101 Cooking For Two
An excellent burger and it is oh so easy if you know the secrets.

If your an accomplished griller, just move on... This is a tutorial for newbies and those who just can't seem to get it right. This is not the gourmet burger. I'm not grounding meat. I'm not stuffing the burger and I not mixing things in. We are going to learn to grill store bought ground beef and make a darn nice meal easily in a way you don't have to keep looking back at a recipe. How is that for a goal?

Funny story (skip this paragraph if you just want to get on with it). In Lee Iacocca's autobiography, there is a section that talks about the Ford Motor Company executive dining room having the best burgers ever. When the chef was asked about his technique he demonstrated the method starting with a whole beef tenderloin going into the meat grinder. Great starts will give great results. I don't start that way and I assume you won't either.

First the Meat. Use 80/20 ground beef. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you want. Most of us will start with store bought ground beef. There is a difference between hamburger and ground beef. Ground beef has a variable amount of fat but the fat is from the beef being ground. Hamburger can have up to 30% fat and fat from trimming other cuts can be added. I choose #1 not #2. Most burger gurus suggest 20% fat for the most moist and tasty burger. I think they are right. Fat does taste good. I sometimes go all the way down to 10% and still come out acceptable but you need to be careful. You can go lower fat by adding something to retain moisture like my Healthy Low Fat Burgers  or American Test Kitchen adding a panade of milk and bread. 

The Grill. As hot as you can. You may again skip the rest of this paragraph. You are cooking a relatively thin patty of meat rapidly so high direct heat is correct. While my very hot Weber runs 650 degrees plus surface temperature and you might "only" get 550 the results will be about the same. Some gurus suggest you must use charcoal. If true, I can't grill a burger since I don't have a charcoal grill. Use what you have. Just get it very hot, cleaned and oiled.

Food Safety and Temperature. 160 absolute minimum (but not much higher or you have a hockey puck).  No discussion allowed. I'm playing the Doctor card here. You will not eat or serve ground beef that has not reached 160 degrees. I don't care what some idiot tells you about it tasting better. You can get seriously ill or die. A good thermometer is a must. I use a Thermapen and it is worth every cent of the almost $100 it cost. But you can get good results for $15.

Bun, seasoning and add ons. I'm a big fan of good baked goods. A cheap bun will ruin your great grilling. The meat needs to fit the bun. I'm OK with the burger overflowing the bun some but I don't like a large bun and smaller burger. Since we are learning the basics, a standard burger bun fits a 1/3 pound burger well and that is what we will do here. I do like to brown the bun up for a few seconds on the grill. Seasoning, just some salt and pepper will do. I'm using my Homemade Everyday Seasoning Salt - 7:2:2 since we love some garlic. I'm also adding some cheese just to show you how.

The Tricks. Three only for today.
  1. Trick number one. Do not compress the meat. Pat it into shape. If you use a burger press, just use it to shape.
  2. Trick number two. Indent the center of the burger to prevent "puffing". This seems strange but it is a must do.Without this, the center will puff up thicker, it will be hard to get to the correct internal temperature. The outside will almost burn and will dry out. All bad things. I'm starting with a 3/4 inch thick burger and compress an 1 inch diameter area about 1/4 inch.
  3. Trick number three. Flip once. Don't play with your food and don't keep poking it to check the temp when you know it's not done. I think the more you flip, the more juices drain and the more flair ups. The more pokes, the more moisture drains. Cook for about 5 minutes (I literally use a watch with a second hand) on the first side, flip and cook another 3-4 minutes on the second side. I then check the temperature and will add cheese the last 30-60 seconds.
Rating
I love this...  I'm sure I have done this a thousand times.

Notes: Like many things, once you get your basic method down then the variations can flow. This is a darn good burger as made and is basically what I have done a thousand times. Not to say it is not a special meal but it is an excellent quick everyday type meal. I'll take an excellent meal frequently. But make it bigger, make it smaller, stuff-it or whatever.

I won't tell you this is the greatest burger in the world but it is very very good. Some day I will try the Ford Motor Company or the American Test Kitchen method. I'm sure they are wonderful but this is everyday cooking.  So let's do our burgers right. You will be glad you did.

Preheat grill on high. Clean and oil.
Start with 1 pound 80/20 burger. Divide into 1/3 pound balls. They are the size of a tennis ball.
 Pat gently into 3/4 inch thick 4 inch patties.
 Give them a good sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides. I'm using my 7:2:2 (salt, pepper, garlic).
 Press an one inch round 1/4 inch deep indentation into the center of one side.
Grill over direct heat. Flip after 5 minutes. The center one does not have the indentation (more on that later)
Grill another 3-4 minutes and check the temperature. Get to 160 then add cheese for about 30-60 seconds if using cheese. The burger without the indentation was 145 when the others reached 160. It took 2 more minutes but more importantly, it puffed about 1/4 inch, was about 1/2 inch smaller diameter and was over charred and dried out surface. All from the lack of the indentation.
How to Grill a Hamburger - A Tutorial from 101 Cooking For Two
The rear burger is the one cooked without the indentation.

I don't feel a great need to rest the meat before serving. By the time you bun it and do things to it, it has been enough time.
Jake's getting older and gray.




How to Grill an Excellent Hamburger - A Tutorial


An excellent burger and it is oh so easy if you know the secrets. A tutorial for newbies and those who just can't seem to get it right.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Ground Beef 80/20
  • Salt and pepper to taste OR 7:2:2
  • buns and fixings
Instructions
1) Preheat grill on high. Clean and oil.2) Start with 1 pound 80/20 burger. Divide into 1/3 pound balls. They are the size of a tennis ball.3) Pat gently into 3/4 inch thick 4 inch patties.4) Give them a good sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides. I'm using my 7:2:2 (salt, pepper, garlic).5) Press an one inch round 1/4 inch deep indentation into the center of one side.6) Grill over direct heat. Flip after 5 minutes. 7) Grill another 3-4 minutes and check the temperature. Get to 160 then add cheese for about 30-60 seconds if using cheese. I don't feel a great need to rest the meat before serving. By the time you bun it and do things to it, it has been enough time.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 3 burgers

Updated

August 18 2013

Dan Mikesell

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4 Comments:

At August 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM , Blogger Chris said...

I've been craving burgers this weekend so this just made it worse. Thanks....I guess :)

 
At August 18, 2013 at 4:38 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

I frequently crave a burger and it is all I have time for...

 
At August 19, 2013 at 5:23 PM , Blogger Pam said...

Your burgers look delicious and you are right on spot with the 80/20 and the indentation. Just wish I had one now because I am drooling over that photo!

 
At August 19, 2013 at 8:07 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

I'm surprised about how many don't know these things many of us take for granted. The indentation is so simple but really important to the final results. Thanks for the comment.

 

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